Give Caldwell Ravens game ball

Give Caldwell Ravens game ball
January 20, 2013, 11:00 pm
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Flacco: 'It feels good in general.'

The Ravens could look in many directions for who deserved a game ball for Sunday’s AFC championship victory over the Patriots. Here’s a suggestion: offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell.

The game turned in the third quarter when the Ravens began a drive with about 10 minutes left in the period. Caldwell gave up on the run-Ray-Rice-twice-then-pass philosophy and switched exclusively to the shotgun, putting the game in Joe Flacco’s hands (and arm). On that drive, the Ravens went 87 yards in 10 plays, only one of them a run. Flacco was 6-for-9 through the air, culminating in a 5-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta to give the Ravens a 14-13 lead, putting them ahead for good.

When the Ravens got the ball back with just under 5 minutes remaining in the period, it was still all-shotgun, all-the-time. The Ravens kept the Patriots defense honest with more rushes this time by Rice and Bernard Pierce, but it was still mostly Air Flacco — 5-for-6, capped by a 3-yard TD catch by Anquan Boldin. It was another 10-play drive, this time covering 67 yards and putting the Ravens up by eight moments into the fourth quarter.

And when the Ravens got the ball back about 2 1/2 minutes later at the Patriots’ 47 courtesy of Bernard Pollard’s monster hit that caused Stevan Ridley’s fumble, there was no deviation. Four shotgun plays, three pass completions, with the other also a pass play that turned into a 14-yard scramble by Flacco. Another scoring pass to Boldin.

If you’re scoring at home, that’s 18 pass attempts, 14 completions. It all came out of the shotgun, many times with the no-huddle thrown in. Caldwell adjusted the offense in a way the man he replaced in the midst of the season, Cam Cameron, often was accused of not doing, and the results were as clear as the huge smiles on the faces of Flacco and Boldin.

As things are turning out, the key move this season may have been when head coach John Harbaugh replaced Cameron with Caldwell. Does anyone now recall how some people were wringing their hands over the fact that Caldwell never had called plays before in the NFL?

And do you think maybe those teams that didn’t bother to interview Caldwell for a head coaching job are having second thoughts?